Sunday, December 10, 2006

What Advent at our house really looks like

Sometimes, Advent and seasons like it bring out the perfectionist in us. We want to do it all, do it right, do it for the memory books.

It doesn't always work that way, as my post from this time last year (on the Immaculate Conception) shows:

We went to the vigil Mass last night, and as Mass experiences go, it wasn't one for the memory book.

Our day was packed with activity, but I had allowed enough time for us to sanely prepare for Mass. After all, as I told the children, "Mass is the most important thing we'll do today, so we work everything around that, not the other way around."

And yet, I somehow managed to end up with the family running late. And, because 5:30 is the bewitched hour for three-year-olds, of course Ramona Quimby cried as we left the house and she fell asleep on the way. Sigh. That meant she wouldn't be able to sleep later until about 9:30 or 10 p.m. We walked into the Church just after Mass had begun (something we never do, something I really dislike doing, and something that means we'll end up sitting in the back, which I also dislike.) We slipped into an available space in the back and I do have to at least credit Anne and Betsy with not complaining about the seating (they dislike the back rows, too.)

Ramona slept through most of Mass (meaning her bedtime was getting pushed back to 10:30 or 11....) It was crowded, and I couldn't hear the homily. Betsy kept coughing, and Anne was sniffling and Ramona would wake up only enough to protest that my tired arms were trying to transfer her to Daddy's strong ones.

But you know what? He was still there. I still received Christ -- Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. No matter how hectic the preparation, no matter how distracted I was, no matter how far back we sat -- He was still there for me. Oh, to be so faithful.

Oh, and one more thing. On the way to Mass, as we prayed the decade of the Rosary that we always pray on the way, I had asked the Blessed Mother's intercession for Ramona (who was still crying at that point) at Mass. Could we get through this with relative peace? I asked. Well, I see now I should be more specific, but I was still grateful for the answer to prayer. Yeah, yeah, she didn't go to bed until almost 11, but she did get through Mass very well. Next time I'll try to itemize my requests.

This year, Mass on that special feast was easier and better, although this time it was Anne who was a little sick (and I didn't get to the Mary candle plans I'd hoped for -- instead, a couple of holy cards were tucked in next to the Christ candle ....) But the same truth held: Jesus was there with us -- Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity -- and I came away from Mass so grateful for His Presence and work in our lives.

Other glimpses into how Advent is unfolding here:

We were five days late in getting started with our Jesse Tree. So, we sat down next to the tree with our Bible and ornaments, talked about all the Bible stories, and got caught up in a very short time. Being late didn't seem to matter much as I listened to Anne and Betsy explain things to Ramona.

We were behind on our Tabitha's Travels readings, too. So, I snuggled with the girls on the couch one morning and we caught up.

Today, after Mass, I was so exhausted that I thought I was sick. I lay like a slug on the couch and could barely move, drifting in and out of consciousness. My kids were worried. I took a three hour short nap, and it made a huge difference in my ability to function. It's a funny thing, that sleep stuff. I guess we really do need it.

We have another busy week coming up. There's always plenty to do, prepare, make, read ... plenty to tire me or make me crabby (like the splinter that shot under my fingernail but, hey, that's a separate post), or convince me that Advent isn't looking quite as "perfect" as it should.

But, all of the imperfections are really Jesus' way of reminding me that it's never perfect down here. There will be sickness, exhaustion, cranky moms and cranky babes, tardiness with daily readings and forgotten craft projects. But, none of that really matters.

What matters is that He's still there -- Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity -- every time I walk into church.

And His perfection more than makes up for all that is lacking in mine.

(This post also appears at Catholic Exchange, on their new blogging page.)


Katherine in TX said...

This is so true and definitely what truly matters.

Jennifer said...

I love Karen! Thank you for this post. It was like a little band aid for my crankiness. I told my husband I was faxing him my resignation yesterday.

Margaret in Minnesota said...

What a lovely post. And full of love, to boot! I so agree that it's not when we get around to doing our liturgical activities, it's how..

PS. I got a nap yesterday, too. ;)

Jill said...

Great post. And I love the Charlie Brown Christmas graphic. Perfect. (I love that movie!)
And fabulous picture of Ramona and the tree. Now that is a perfect picture of the season!